Now I'm worried...

annpattApril 24, 2011

My first installation of a package of bees went poorly. First of all, I dropped the cage into the box. Getting it out caused great mayhem. Then I was stunned to find the Queen in a cage with what were attendant bees, but which I thought were bees that found their way in with her and meant to do her harm. The cork on one end was place in the opening sideways, so I thought they got in that way.

Meanwhile bees were leaving the box in droves, I'd lost control of the situation, and I tried to pierce a red plug on the other end of the cage. Instead of penetrating the red thing, the nail pushed it further into the cage. I left the red "plug" alone at that point, thinking that it was candy. This happened on Friday. Fifteen minutes ago, while lying in bed, it occurred to me that maybe that red thing was not candy, but a plug that should have been removed.

It's a top bar hive. I was told to leave the bees alone for at least five days. Now I'm worried that my Queen is trapped. Shall I disturb them tomorrow to check her out?

And if I do disturb them, should I use smoke? They've had a rough three days in the raw spring weather we've had.


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Just look at the front of your hive. If they are bringing in pollen, the queen is fine. (with rare exceptions)

    Bookmark   April 25, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

When I install a package I release the queen right away, queen is usually long enough with the bees to be alright.... It would be different when installing a queen in a queenless hive.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 2:40AM
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I'm not sure we have pollen yet in Maine. The bees seemed to be settling in well yesterday, but my bungling clumsiness taking the roofs off got everybody riled up again.

I wish I'd released her yesterday. I checked her, discovered that the red plug I removed was over the cork plug, so she was not able to be released. Then I tried to get the cork out with a sheetrock screw and shoved the cork in with the queen. I am hoping there's enough room for her to get out. In my panic, I forgot to check the feeders, so I'm going to have to disturb both my hives again tomorrow.

Boy! If there's any more ways to screw up, I haven't discovered them yet.

I've also learned that bees can sting through my bee suit (I wore nothing under it; I sure will next time.) and that a few very nearly penetrated my leather glove. !!!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 11:28AM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Take it easy...the more you work on them you'll learn and gets easier.

One thing I learned for easy feeding with the frame feeder...put the feeder all the way to the outside, [last frame]. When you come with the syrup, move/slide the top cover gentle to one side....[they hardly know you're there] when you have a slight opening, about 1/2 or 3/4" gap over the feeder you can pour in. I have the plastic frame feeder, I put wood sticks in for floats so they can't get drowned. This way you don't have to smoke them.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 8:32PM
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Good idea about the wood sticks. I've already had several go down to my lake and drown. I'll partly fill my bird bath and put sticks in it.

My feeder is a overturned Mason jar, but I think I might be able to move the lid slightly, as you describe, to get to it.

konrad, exactly under what circumstances should I smoke my bees?

Thank you both.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 8:52PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

I also do jar or pail feeding on top of hive, over the hive cover with hole in the middle. This will be inside a empty box and some insulation keeping the syrup warm. When changing or filling this, some bees might come out of the hole, [inner cover]...nothing major, no need smoking.

Smoking them a little calms them down and you can work the hive easier, not really needed in small population...but when you have two deep hive body full of bees it's a different story. Lets say you put a honey super on over two deep brood boxes, might be one brood box in your case, sometimes a ton of bees are all over the box, smoke will drive them's like herding them, then your'e not squashing bees on top of box when putting another one on.

Check if you see the girls bringing in pollen, hind legs with pollen baskets.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2011 at 11:13PM
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That is the most stunning photograph!

I have read everything I could get my hands on since I received my hive as a Christmas present, but everything I learned seems to have gone out the window.

I ordered bees from an apiarist who called me last Friday and told me that my bees were in. When I got there, she offered me a second colony for free, to put in with the ones I'd ordered. She had five colonies that were doing very poorly, so, worried about the colony I'd purchased, I accepted the second colony with thousands of dead bees in the package. I suspect that was a bad call on my part. I have another colony that also arrived on Friday from a different apiarist.

I'm going to be your worst nightmare, konrad, gmason, because I have a thousand questions, it turns out, and you seem like my port in the storm.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2011 at 10:14AM
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Somehow when you get started, reading the book isn't the same as the real thing. I agree with the above. Don't panic. I've used frame feeders in the past for the very reasons Konrad listed. Easy access without disturbing the bees. Another good method is just setting a bucket feeder or large entrance feeder on the inner cover with a second empty deep on top. Virtually no drowning and still easy access. As far as the queen cage, you can just carefully pry cork out of remaining side, or hold one screen side down and pull back screen to release queen into hive.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 7:19PM
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I dropped my first package, too.
Question: I was taught to insert the queen cage into an empty foundation with a space carved out (poke hole in sugar plug) Alternatively, secure queen cage with rubber band onto foundation.
Do you see disadvantages in this?

Are you saying actually open the queen cage and let her go into the hive? Tell me more.

I was an interesting way of releasing the bees on a
Beemaster video. He carefully and so gently removed the entire screen on one side of the package. One gentle shake and they were all in hive in a moment- it looked a lot less stressful than all the shaking it takes to get them out that relatively small opening where the can fits.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 11:57PM
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Marie, yes, I saw that, too. I'm doing it that way next time.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 9:34PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

Our packages come in long cardboard tube...easy to get them
out without knocking, the queen I always release at installment,
no need to leave inside the cage when she has done her time
with the bees.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 11:47AM
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i've installed packages by placing the entire package in the deep without dumping the bees out but just opening the top. i removed enough frames to fit the package. i place the queen cage between the frames adjacent to where i put the package. I then close up the hive and come back the next day and remove the now empty package and put back the previously removed frames. i then check to be sure the queen has been released several days later and feed, feed, feed.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 5:27PM
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